Teachers for Teachers | Resolutions, #Nerdlutions and Grit
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Resolutions, #Nerdlutions and Grit









New Year’s is approaching and many of us are thinking of making resolutions.  This time of year inspires the will to create new habits and set goals.  #Nerdlution gave many of us a headstart on our resolutions this year.  It is incredible to me how many people joined in and the dialogue and creativity that are inspired by it.  We are now 30  days in.  Now is the time when the going gets rough.  There have been more tweets about failing and not meeting goals.  There have been fewer tweets in general over the holidays.  It is so easy to set goals, but seeing a goal through to the end is really tough.  The word grit keeps coming to mind.  I am hearing and reading about grit everywhere.  It is hard to define.  It is almost intangible, unless you have experienced it.

I train for marathons.  I say train because I have trained for more marathons than I have actually ran.  Injury often gets in my way about two weeks before the race.  I had done all the long runs, persevered through the grueling training schedule, and then had to say goodbye to the achievement.  This happened to me six times.  I have trained for eight marathons and only ran two of the races — well, technically only one.  Two years ago, I was recovering from a hip injury that prevented me from running the New York Marathon.  This particular marathon was a dream for me.  I set my eyes on making my comeback to running with New York the next fall.  I had my number and set my goal.  My body stayed healthy and I was good to go –until Hurricane Sandy hit.   There would be no New York Marathon.

This was the race that truly taught me about grit.  In that moment, the moment when I heard the news I had so many feelings.  I felt relieved because I truly believed it was the right decision for the people of the city of New York.  I felt angry that once again I would not meet my goal.  I felt sad and allowed myself to cry for the loss of achievement.  But then I felt determination.  Something inside me said …not yet.

I decided I would run a marathon that weekend – my marathon.  I quietly shared my plan with family and friends.  I mapped out a 26.2-mile route and dropped off fuel in hidden locations along the way.  I set out to run my marathon, by myself and for myself.

I ran my best time ever to a playlist created by my family to keep me company along the way.  Instead of crowds cheering me on, I awaited the surprise of the next song on the list and spent time thinking about the meaning of each chosen song.  Instead of being among thousands of runners, I was completely alone.  Instead of a grand finish line, I had my family waiting for me with a finish line they created.  I made my final turn and saw them… but they were facing the wrong way.  There were signs, flowers, and music. They were there, waiting for me with pride and love, but they were looking the in the wrong direction.  I knew I should turn around and enter the park from the other side so that their finish line would work as they planned, but all I could do was laugh.  I broke down laughing and could barely run.  It was the perfect imperfect ending to an imperfect achievement of a goal.

Grit was truly a mindset for me in the Clarathon (as named by my family).  It was not about having the physical or mental stamina I needed to meet my goal.  It was about having a mindset to define success or achievement flexibly.  I had to search within myself to truly understand my goal.  Was it New York or was it a marathon?   Was it running the marathon or pushing myself to do something that was for me and only me?  I came to the realization that I could meet my goal and not run New York.  I understood that sometimes the goals we originally set are merely an entry point to a bigger goal in our lives.  We need to allow ourselves to discover ourselves – the good, the bad and the ugly – through the process of working towards a goal.  That journey gives us insights into our strengths and weaknesses, our schedules, our distractions and our joys.  It helps us understand what we truly need and how to set up a life that helps us meet our needs and our goals.  It is not about the goal itself, it is about what we learn through the process of working towards the goal.

In that moment, I did not turn around to make a perfect ending.  I learned through the process that meeting a goal is not about being perfect it is about making revisions and redefining success.  I can’t help but think about the possible connections we all will have with our students if we use our  resolution or our #nerdlution experiences to share with them what we have learned through the process of setting goals, failing, revising, making new rules, becoming distracted, refocusing and finding that inner strength – that grit – to make it to the finish line with a better understanding of who we are and what we need to be successful.  In my family, when the going gets rough, one of us almost always references the Clarathon and we try to remember that the best finishes often are the ones we could have never planned for.



So… 2014 is approaching and there are 20 days left in #nerdultion … Will you be making new resolutions? What revisions are you making to the goals you have already set?  What have you learned about yourself in the process of working towards a goal?  How do you define grit?  Do you believe in redefining success?  How will you use what you have learned through this process to rethink goal setting in your classroom?



  • Avatar
    Posted at 09:09h, 31 December Reply

    Clarathon -impressive. I like how you reflect on this – that it’s not all about meeting the goal, but rather the process and learning, redefining and revision that helps us grow and change. I m not making any resolutions, but for a third year I plan to join people who choose one little word to be their guide. My 2013 OLW was “spark”. I don’t have a word for this year yet. You will see that several slicers will write about OLW. The idea originates from Ali Edwards – http://aliedwards.com/2013/12/one-little-word-2014.html
    Happy New Year!

    • Clare and Tammy
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 12:42h, 31 December Reply

      What a great idea! We will check it out. I had heard it mentioned and did not know what it was — hmmm one word. I love spark. I will let you know what we decide! Happy New Year

  • Avatar
    digital bonnie
    Posted at 12:51h, 31 December Reply

    I LOVE your marathon. A wonderful story! GRIT- a good word for the new year as well.
    Happy 2014!

    • Clare and Tammy
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 13:56h, 31 December Reply

      It is one to remember! Grit –that might be the word!

  • Avatar
    Gigi McAllister
    Posted at 12:52h, 31 December Reply

    Wow! This is a great story Clare. You certainly demonstrate the true meaning of grit. I love the fact that you created your own marathon and finished your goal in your own way. Maybe your OLW is grit?

    • Clare and Tammy
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 13:57h, 31 December Reply

      I am intrigued by this idea of OLW –grit is a great suggestion! It was quite the ending! Happy New Year!

  • Avatar
    Posted at 12:56h, 31 December Reply

    Love this post, Clare, and the idea of thinking about goals as entry points. I am one of those who has recently been neglectful about posting in #nerdlution. One of my goals was to write every day. I increased my writing, for sure, and one of the things that led me to was joining SOL. So my goal was definitely an entry point to something else. Flexible thinking – so important in all areas of life!

    • Clare and Tammy
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 13:58h, 31 December Reply

      Thanks Rose! I truly believe that we need to be flexible with our goals for ourselves and our students. We love having you in our PLN and reading your posts! Keep writing!! Happy New Year!

    • Clare and Tammy
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 19:33h, 31 December Reply

      Thanks Rose! It is all about the process for me. I love your SOL posts! Happy New Year!

  • Avatar
    Posted at 13:41h, 31 December Reply

    Grit is a mindset – how fabulous that you took this approach to a challenge, and that your finish line looked so welcoming! Happy New Year!

    • Clare and Tammy
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 13:59h, 31 December Reply

      It was a wonderful finish line and taught me some important lessons! Thank you –Happy New Year!

  • Avatar
    Posted at 15:00h, 31 December Reply

    Grit was underrated for so long. Now it’s a necessity. LIke Tara said, it’s a mindset!

    Happy New Year, Clare!

    • Clare and Tammy
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 19:34h, 31 December Reply

      I think I am coming to understand grit more and more. It is a concept I am reflecting on and thinking about a lot lately. Happy New Year!

  • Avatar
    Leigh Anne
    Posted at 15:15h, 31 December Reply

    I am chuckling right now because although I took many things from this post, the one thing that stuck with me was the family playlist! My daughter is a runner and what a neat idea to get her through a marathon. Our family is very music oriented…we tie music to everything important and not so important in life. This could be so much fun!

    Now for the “meat” of your post! I love the idea of goals being entry points to bigger things. One of the reasons I did not join #nurdlution was my fear of failure. But if I would have looked at it as an entry point to something bigger, it might not have mattered. Thanks for sharing today!

    • Clare and Tammy
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 19:36h, 31 December Reply

      I LOVED my playlist –I still listen to it when I run now. They really thought through each song and its placement on the list! It was amazing –better than any crowd!! I continue to think about goals as a process not a destination –it is helping me take more risks and understand myself better! Thank you. Happy New Year!

  • Avatar
    Posted at 16:01h, 31 December Reply

    I don’t run marathons. I don’t actually run at all. But I am learning grit as I am trying to get in shape to start playing volleyball again. I practiced grit yesterday at the gym (although I did not realize it was grit until now). After reading your post, I believe there are a few goals I need to set for myself, and maybe I have discovered my OLW for 2014! Thank you and Happy New Year!

    • Clare and Tammy
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 19:38h, 31 December Reply

      Thank you ! I am not sure I completely understand it either, but the more I think about the more I learn about myself! It would be fun to share our jouney this year if we pick the same OLW for 2014! Happy New Year

  • Avatar
    Posted at 19:20h, 31 December Reply

    “It is not about the goal itself, it is about what we learn through the process of working towards the goal.”

    -Exactly! Grit has been on my mind in relation to my teaching lately. What makes people hang on and persevere? In your Slice, you indicate that it was going through a reflective process to uncover the meaning in your goals for you that helped you hang tough and keep going. I like that idea.

    Congratulations on running the Clarathon!

    • Clare and Tammy
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 19:41h, 31 December Reply

      Thanks Susan! It was the reflection that ultimately helped me persevere. That was new to me — I am now trying to focus more on the process of working toward a goal and what I learn from it rather than the achievement itself. Happy New Year!

  • Avatar
    Linda Baie
    Posted at 23:07h, 31 December Reply

    It’s an inspiring post and I also love the idea of goals as entry points into life experiences. And I love “we try to remember that the best finishes often are the ones we could have never planned for.” Beautifully said and ended. It seems that grit is already an important part of who you are. Happy New Year-looking forward to more in 2014 from you both.

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